Projects to put lid on water greedy plants

THE role played by coal-fired power plants as freshwater guzzlers, second only to irrigation in the US, will be addressed under a $US5 million Department of Energy research program.
Projects to put lid on water greedy plants Projects to put lid on water greedy plants Projects to put lid on water greedy plants Projects to put lid on water greedy plants Projects to put lid on water greedy plants


Angie Tomlinson

The projects, which follow on from an initial 2003 DOE project, will focus on non-traditional sources of water, advanced cooling technology, and advanced water recovery and reuse technology.

The DOE has selected seven projects aimed at reducing the amount of freshwater needed by coal-fired power plants.

The National Mine Land Reclamation Center at West Virginia University will develop a framework to assess the costs, as well as the technical, regulatory, and environmental benefits, of using mine water instead of freshwater to generate thermoelectric power.

Lehigh University will investigate the use of condensing heat exchangers to recover water from boiler flue gas.

Marley Cooling Technologies will determine the benefits of its patented Air2Air condensing technology on cooling towers.

The Nalco Company plans to develop novel membrane separation and scale-inhibitor technologies to enable coal-fired power plants to economically use “impaired” water for cooling.

The University of Pittsburgh will assess the potential of three different impaired waters—secondary treated municipal wastewater, passively treated coal-mine drainage, and ash pond effluent—as cooling waters for coal-based thermoelectric power plants.

The URS Group will demonstrate the use of regenerative heat exchange to reduce fresh water use in coal-fired power plants equipped with wet flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems by minimising evaporative water loss in the FGD systems.

Drexel University will develop technologies that reduce freshwater consumption from all coal-fired power plant water-intensive components, including cooling towers, scrubbers, coal dryers, and ash handlers.

The nexus between energy and water has become a topic of increasing concern in the US.

While most of the water withdrawn is returned to its source, issues about water availability and ecological and quality impacts continue to challenge the operation of existing power plants and the permitting of new power projects.

In addition, power plants will increasingly compete for fresh water with other use sectors such as residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial, and in-stream use, not only in the arid West, but in many other regions of the country as well.